Intelligence cycle is the process of knowledge generation by which gathered information is transformed into intelligence and afterward spread to users.
There are distinct phases which comprise the cycle, although the principal ones are: direction, collection, processing, and dissemination. In the direction phase the decision of what to monitor is made, the available means are gathered, as well as the plan to obtain, coordinate and control. In the collection phase raw data is gathered. In the processing/analysis phase the information is synthesised into intelligence through evaluation, analysis, integration and interpretation. In the dissemination phase intelligence is distributed to the end users of the organisation. Afterwards, the circuit continues with revisions after feedback from the decision-makers.
How to make sense of business and competitive analysis, published in August 2007, provides a discussion of the role of the intelligence cycle and the folly of progressing in business without proper intelligence. Analysis, say authors Babette Bensoussan and Craig Fleisher, is a crucial part of the intelligence cycle.